President Joe Biden signs historic same-sex and interracial marriage protections into law
In front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 people, President Joe Biden (D) signed the Respect for Marriage Act, a law which officially repealed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that forbade the federal government from legally recognizing same-sex marriages.
The law also requires the federal and state governments to recognize same-sex marriages as long as they occur in states where they are legal. If any state refuses to recognize such marriages the spouses can sue under the new law.
“Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia: They’re all connected,” Biden said before signing the law, according to LGBTQ Nation. “The antidote to hate is love. This law and beloved defense strike a blow against hate in all its forms. And that’s why this law matters to every single American, no matter who you are or who you love.”
The D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus, nonbinary singer Sam Smith, and longtime LGBTQ ally Cyndi Lauper all performed for the crowd before Biden signed the law.
169 House Members and 36 Senators voted against the bill, which also protects interracial marriages. All were Republicans. Republicans also tried to derail its passage by adding amendments that would’ve allowed people the right to discriminate based on sincerely held religious beliefs, effectively hollowing out any civil rights protections that come with legalized same-sex marriage.
Thirty-five states still have same-sex marriage bans on their books. If the Supreme Court ever overturns the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriages, those states will be able to stop offering marriage to same-sex residents.
The Respect for Marriage Act ensures that U.S. citizens will be able to travel to other states with legalized same-sex marriages and have those marriages recognized at the state and federal levels.
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